David John Constant
November 09, 1941, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire
Left hand Bat
Slow Left arm Orthodox
David Constant was a talented schoolboy cricketer who abandoned his ambitions as a player after spells with Kent and Leicestershire to become an umpire, joining the first-class list at the age of 27 in 1969 after retiring as a player the previous September.
From there, he immediately established a good reputation and in 1971, aged 29, he was elevated to the Test panel, standing against Pakistan at Headingley. From there he became an ever present on the Test panel, an official regarded as firm but fair.
However, in 1982 he fell foul of Pakistan after a contentious decision in the deciding Test, and the Pakistanis objected to him standing on their next tour in 1987 but the ECB refused to back down. Constant was again the target of the tourists' ire in that series as well, but he stood in his last Test in 1988 and only featured in a handful of ODIs before his final match in 2001. But he retained his composure and his reputation on the English circuit.
The retirement of David Constant means that county cricket has lost its longest-ever serving umpire; his final season was his 38th on the list. After an indifferent career as a left-hand bat for Kent and Leicestershire, he became a Test umpire when still only 29. And for almost two decades Bird and Constant were accepted as the top two umpires in the English game. But - a sign of things to come - Constant found his career hindered by distrust from Asian teams, harking back to a decision in the Pakistan series of 1982, and he umpired his last Test in 1988, when he was just 46.
He remained highly regarded in England - and very sensitive, taking bad behaviour on the field personally. He was in tears at the end of a fractious 1997 NatWest semi-final between Essex and Glamorgan in which Robert Croft and Mark Ilott squared up to
Angus Fraser, Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Batting & Fielding
Umpire & Referee